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Home runs the norm in Arizona?

By Sheldon Published: February 26, 2009

GOODYEAR, ARIZ.: It is nothing that hasn't been previously noted, but it has been 16 years since the Indians trained in Arizona.

Consequently, it is time to review.

‘‘The ball definitely travels farther here than in Florida,’’ Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

Ain't it the truth. In the first two exhibition games of the spring, eight home runs have sailed out of Goodyear Ballpark, one ball has been caught against the fence and a few more have reached the track.

But maybe it's the pitching, stupid. Could be, but scouts who watch spring training in Florida and Arizona have a good eye for these kinds of things.

That doesn't mean the home runs hit by Mark DeRosa, Stephen Head and Michael Aubrey on Wednesday plus Matt LaPorta's on Thursday in addition to four hit by the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks are bogus.

At the very least, all of these balls were hit hard.

Another weather-related issue in Arizona ` almost no clouds in the sky ` makes it difficult to catch fly balls. Several players already have had problems in that respect, and LaPorta lost a fly to left in the sun Thursday.

‘‘From what I understand, things are a little different here,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘I wasn't there, but the other day we had a catchers' drill (catching pop flies), and I heard it was pretty interesting.’’

More hitting, staggering outfielders and early errors (four for the Tribe on Thursday) have made for two long games, including 3 hours, 22 minutes against the Diamondbacks.

‘‘I think the games are going to be long,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘The ball definitely flies here, but I don't think the games will be this extreme.’’
Hits keep comingThe Tribe's 15-9 loss to the Diamondbacks can be pinned mostly on Tomo Ohka and Jack Cassel, two pitchers signed to minor-league contracts.

Cassel gave up four runs and seven hits in 1j innings, and Ohka was stung for six runs (two earned) and seven hits in one inning.

But that wasn't the only problem. Aaron Laffey and Head each made one error, and Jordan Brown committed two, leading to eight unearned runs.

On the Tribe's side, Grady Sizemore singled twice and drove in two runs; LaPorta had a bloop double and a home run.

TICKETS ON SALE Single game tickets for Indians home games go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, and fans who purchase four or more tickets Saturday or Sunday will receive a free Grady Sizemore fleece blanket.

Fans also will receive 50 percent discounts on select April and May games if they buy tickets in the top four price categories. For example, field boxes will cost $25 for these games.

Tickets can be acquired at the Progressive Field box office, online at http://www.indians.com, Indians Team Shops, Ticketmaster locations (including all Macy's and select Giant Eagle stores) and by phone at (216-241-5555) or toll free at 866-48-TRIBE.

TIME CHANGE Because TBS plans to televise the game, the Tribe's encounter with the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on May 31 will begin at 12:40 p.m. The game will be blacked out locally on TBS but can be seen on SportsTime Ohio.

MARCHING ONWARD
The Indians finish their three-game homestand this afternoon (3 p.m.) by playing host to the San Diego Padres. Fausto Carmona will start for the Tribe against Cha Seung Baek. David Miller, Rafael Betancourt, Masa Kobayashi, Adam Miller, Jon Meloan, Hector Rondon, Ryan Edell and Greg Aquino are set to follow Carmona.

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